Enlarging the Diegetic Space: Uses of the Multi-channel Soundtrack in Cinematic Narrative

Christos Manolas, Sandra Pauletto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Throughout its evolution, cinema sound has changed the way we watch and understand films. Initially sound carried little narrative information. Today's multi-channel soundtrack, on the other hand, is able to enlarge the diegetic space and immerse the audience in it. However, it could be argued that the multi-channel soundtrack's potential as a narrative tool has yet to be fully explored. This article reports on our research into the possibilities and limitations of the multi-channel soundtrack as a carrier of large sections of narrative information. We identify three areas of interest: spatialisation of sound sources; surround ambiences with a narrative relevance; and separation of sound streams. A short film has been created exploring these topics and feedback has been elicited from a small audience. We conclude that this potential could be fully unlocked if considerations regarding the surround soundtrack are taken into account in the early stages of production.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-55
Number of pages17
JournalThe Soundtrack
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009

Cite this